A wee bit too clever?

July 1, 2014

Politics is hard on families and I respect Holly Walker’s decision to put her family first by deciding to resign.

Her decision to remain as the candidate for Hutt South is somewhat less laudable.

Since Jeanette Fitzsimons lost Coromandel, the Green party hasn’t even pretended to be interested in winning electorates.

I’ve heard their candidates tell meetings to not vote for them, vote for the Labour man or woman, they’re only interested in the party vote.

Like it or not, that’s what MMP allows.

But to have an MP who has stated she will resign from parliament at the end of the term still stand as a candidate in a seat is a new twist of the system.

It’s not unusual to have people stand in seats they can’t win.

Plenty stand in seats for the sake of the party knowing they won’t win nor can they expect to get in on the list. They are taking one for the team in the hope of increasing the party vote.

But this is the first time a list MP who has announced she won’t be in the next parliament still plans to campaign in a seat with the deliberate intent of neither winning it nor returning to parliament.

There are obvious advantages for the party – they have a candidate with profile and the ability to get publicity in a way open to MPs but not so much to a candidate, and who is being paid by the taxpayer.

But what’s in it for the people of Hutt South?

Nothing but another example of MMP’s faults.

The Green Party engineered the early entry of Russel Norman into parliament when he first became co-leader so he could campaign as an MP with the benefits and pay that carried.

That was manipulating the system but at least he was fully intending to be an MP after the next election.

This smells worse than that.

Walker would be paid until the end of the parliamentary term without being a candidate and even if she wasn’t standing in a seat she could still campaign for the party until the election.

So it’s not that there’s any extra cost involved.

It’s more an extra dose of duplicity.

Not trying to win because it’s the party vote that counts is one thing, standing without wanting to win is another.

In the normal course of events a candidate who didn’t expect tow in would be delighted is s/he did but obviously Walker wouldn’t be.

The chances might be slim, and if the good folk of Hutt South catch on to what’s going on, they’ll be even slimmer.

And that’s where she and the party might be being a wee bit too clever.

They might not like the smell of this and decide to give their party votes to a party which stands candidates who genuinely want to be in parliament.


Winning team won’t necessarily be winner

June 29, 2014

A party enjoying poll ratings which show it could govern alone might be in danger of complacency.

There is absolutely none of that at the National Party conference where the very clear message was

Prime Minister John Key told Patrick Gower:

. . . I know the polls look strong for us. And I know on the 3 Reid Research poll we’ll be able to govern alone and I’m really personally desperately hope that’s what election night looks like. But you and I both know it’ll probably be tighter than that and there’s every chance that we don’t win.. .

Chris Finlayson and Steven Joyce gave a similar message to the conference:

. . . Attorney General Chris Finlayson talked about the “hydra” this morning that grows new heads when the old ones are chopped off.

“Cut off Phil Goff and up shoots David Shearer and Hone Harawira. Saw off David Shearer and up springs David Cunliffe and Laila Harre.

“The fragmentation on the left hasn’t made the hydra weaker,” said Mr Finlayson “only more unstable if it can force its way into power again.”

Campaign chairman Steven Joyce warned delegates that the campaign was “still a little puppy” and that anything at all could happen in the next 84 days before the election – the wackiest thing imaginable, he said.

“A retired Maori activist who has become an MP working with a hard left unionist and let’s just throw in a wealthy German millionaire right-winger, they could form a political party,” said.

“That’s the sort of wacky thing that could happen between now and September 20.

“If Laila Harre, Hone Harawira, Pam Corkery, Kim Dotcom, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, David Cunliffe, Matt McCarten, and John Minto are the answer, can we please have another look at the question?” . .

National’s got a winning team but it’s up to voters to decide whether to give the winning team the support it needs to  be the winner, or whether they’re going to trust government to the hydra on the left led by a weak Labour dominated by the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.

With less than three months to go, there's no room for complacency. Join #TeamKey today.  http://mynational.org.nz/support


More tax, higher costs, fewer jobs

June 2, 2014

The Green Party plans to impose a carbon tax on us:

. . . Co-leader Russel Norman wants to scrap the current carbon pricing system – the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In its place would be a tax of $25 per tonne of carbon on industry polluters. . .

Critics of the tax claim the tax is a burden on households, who pay higher electricity and fuel costs.

However, the Greens say their levy would be offset by a ”climate tax cut” on the first $2000 of income. 

”We can reduce our emissions without hurting household budgets,” he said. ”Households will be on average $319 better off every year under the Green party policy.” . .

Imposing a tax with one hand and giving a tax with another won’t make anyone better off because the tax will lead to other cost increases on fuel, power and food which will passed on, in part or full, to consumers.

Agriculture – which is currently exempt from the ETS - would pay a reduced rate of $12.50 per tonne. This works out as an 12.5 per cent hit on farmers’ income. This includes 2 per cent on the working expenses of the average farm. A Berl Economics report, released with the policy, said dairying will be ”adversely affected.”

Dairying won’t just be adversely affected by the carbon tax, it will be hit by other Green policies too.

But it adds: ”However, at the currently projected pay-out for milk solids, even dairy farms in the lowest decile would remain well above break even in the face of an emissions levy.”

What happens when the payout drops to its long-term average which is well below the $7 forecast for the coming season?

What about the environmental impact of less efficient farmers in other countries increasing production because our produce is more expensive which makes it easier to compete with us?

And what about the poor people who will face higher prices for dairy products, power and fuel?

Other gas-emitting industries – such as electricity and road fuels – are less likely to be affected because they would be able to ”pass-on any production cost increases to households.” . . .

That will be the households whose earners will be getting a tax cut, the benefit of which will be less than the cost increases from the extra tax.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said the levy may threaten jobs. 

“Our approach should be unlocking business solutions rather taxing business more,” he said. 

As a “small open trading economy” New Zealand should participate in international emissions trading schemes.

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said the tax will make dairy farmers “less competitive” in international markets. . .

Less competitive means lower returns which means less export income which means less economic growth which means we’ll be less able to fund the first world education, health and other services we need.

However green they want to paint it, this is a red policy which will add costs, put downwards pressure on wages and threaten jobs.

Bernard Hickey told last week’s  Alliance Group Pure South conference that the election will be close.

He then went on to list the policies that farmers could expect to adversely affect them under a Labour/Green coalition with whichever other left-wing parties they’d need to govern.

They included: capital gains tax, compulsory KiwiSaver and water restrictions and charges.

Those are three very good reasons to vote National and the Green carbon tax is another.

And Steven Joyce points out some inconvenient truths:

 

 

 


Green list doens’t rate ag

May 25, 2014

The Green Party has released its list for the upcoming election:

1. TUREI, Metiria   2. NORMAN, Russel  

When you have co-leaders one has to be number one on the list, but I’d be surprised if anyone outside the party would put Turei ahead of Norman.

3. HAGUE, Kevin   4. SAGE, Eugenie    5. HUGHES, Gareth 6. DELAHUNTY, Catherine   7. GRAHAM, Kennedy   8. GENTER, Julie Anne   9. MATHERS, Mojo 10. LOGIE, Jan   11. CLENDON, Dave  12. WALKER, Holly  13. SHAW, James  14. ROCHE, Denise  15. BROWNING, Steffan   16. DAVIDSON, Marama  17. COATES, Barry  18. HART, John 19. KENNEDY, Dave 20. ELLEY, Jeanette  21. McDONALD, Jack  22. MOORHOUSE, David   23. ROTMANN, Sea  24. BARLOW, Aaryn  25. LECKINGER, Richard  26. PERINPANAYAGAM, Umesh  27. RUTHVEN, Susanne  28. MOORE, Teresa   29. LANGSBURY, Dora   30. WOODLEY, Tane   31. PERLEY, Chris   32. GOLDSMITH, Rachael  33. KELCHER, John   34. ROGERS, Daniel  35. WESLEY, Richard  36. SMITHSON, Anne-Elise  37. McALL, Malcolm  38. FORD, Chris  39. HUNT, Reuben

Where a party spokesperson is on the list isn’t necessarily a reflection of the importance placed on the portfolios for which they are responsible.

However, farmers will take some comfort in seeing that the agriculture spokesman, Steffan Browning is the lowest ranked sitting MP.

Given how bad the policy is, the lower priority given to it the better.

The media releases says:

. . . “This is a diverse and balanced list. There are 10 women and 10 men in our top 20, six Aucklanders, four Maori and the first deaf candidate in the top 10 of any party’s list in MMP history. . . .

It’s so much easier to put a stronger emphasis on gender, ethnicity and other factors rather than ability when the chances are high that fewer than half are likely to make it into parliament.


Green bank risks putting us in the red

May 14, 2014

The Green Party wants to establish a Green Investment Bank.

The Green Party will establish a Green Investment Bank as a first step in accelerating New Zealand’s transition to a smarter greener economy, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman announced today.

The Green Investment Bank will be an enduring, government-owned, for-profit bank partnering with the private sector to fund new projects ranging from renewable energy and biofuel production to new clean technologies.

“Like Kiwibank before it, the Green Investment Bank will combine the best of the public and private sectors to accelerate New Zealand’s transition to a smarter, greener economy,” said Dr Norman. . .

Like Kiwibank this would be a bank subsidised by taxpayers in competition with private businesses.

As the Taxpayers’ Unions asks – what could go wrong?

The Taxpayers’ Union is disappointed that the Green Party have announced plans to risk $120 million of taxpayers’ money on a so called ‘green investment bank’.

“Despite successive failure, why do politicians think that they can manage a bank better than the experts?” asks Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union. “The Green Party claims that their bank will be ‘for profit’ but if green technologies were so profitable, what’s stopped commercial banks getting in on the action?”

“The Green Party have a history of incorrectly forecasting high returns in green technologies. In 2001 the Party trumpeted its superannuation fund investing in a wind farm company. Since then, the shares have lost 96% of their value.”

“Does Russel Norman really think that bureaucrats will make profitable decisions with $120 million of taxpayer money, when the Green’s can’t even get it right with their own?”

“We all support developing green energy, but people should pick winners with their own money not be forced to risk nearly $70 per household taken via the tax system.”

The Green plan is to raise the money for the bank by doubling the tax on oil companies.

. . .The party would raise the overall tax take on oil companies to 70 percent from 46 percent, something it says will bring New Zealand in line with the international average. The bank would be expected to cover operational costs from investment returns. The bank will have to be financially self-sufficient, achieving a target rate of return at or above the government’s bond rate, the paper said. . .

Fuel taxes are already high and they impact on everyone directly or indirectly.

Have they thought what the resulting increase in fuel costs would do to motorists and the transport industry?

All investment carries risk.

If people want to risk their own money in investments, green or otherwise, that’s up to them.

If the business case stacked up existing banks would be happy to back them without the need for taxpayer intervention and higher taxes on oil companies which would hit us all and hit the poor hardest.

That would be much better than a government-owned bank which would risk putting us in the red.

 


Greens camapign for state funding continues

May 10, 2014

The Green Party campaign for the state funding of political parties continues:

Some of Wellington’s most recognisable names paid $3500 each to meet Prime Minister John Key at a National Party fundraising dinner also attended by his taxpayer-funded chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson.

As Opposition allegations continue to swirl around National’s so-called “Cabinet clubs” for wealthy donors, it has emerged about 15 people, including former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast and Weta Digital co-founder Jamie Selkirk, attended the dinner at the Museum Hotel, which raised $45,000 for National. . .

The Museum Hotel event was held in 2011, and organised by hotel owner and National Party fundraiser Chris Parkin.

He said yesterday the event was nothing to do with the Cabinet clubs but was his way of helping to support National.

He joked that at least $2000 worth of each donation was for the food and wine. He did not believe anyone attending fundraising dinners expected to be able to “influence” the prime minister. “They are more there to ask questions.”

Goodness me, a party supporter organises a dinner and donates the proceeds to the party.

I can’t see a problem in that but Norman does.

Green Party leader Russel Norman said the fundraiser showed wealthy people could get access to the prime minister when poorer people could not.

Such fundraisers “may be technically legal, they’re not right”, he said. “If you have a lot of money, you can buy exclusive access to the prime minister.” . .

They aren’t just technically legal, they are legal and they don’t mean that wealthy people get access when poorer people don’t.

It means wealthy people are willing to pay to have a meal attended by the PM when others get to meet and talk with him for free, every day.

A spokeswoman for Key said the Greens were welcome to highlight legitimate fundraisers by National, but Key was more interested in the job of governing.

National had frequently pointed out that all the funds it raised were declared as required by law. She did not respond to a question asking if it was Key’s usual practice to take Eagleson to fundraisers.

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said National had obeyed the rules around donations by declaring the aggregate of those who donated.

People who donated to political parties liked to see where their money was going and to have contact with those they were giving money to, he said.

People also like to see the government concentrate on governing and issues that matter.

All but the very few who are members of the left-wing parties which want state funding of political parties would also prefer that their taxes were spent on things that matter, not propping up parties which can’t persuade enough people to fund them voluntarily.


How many others feel that way?

April 24, 2014

Shane Jones said he would have refused to work with the Greens in government:

Mr Jones has gone blue – National Party blue, off to work for the Government, revealing his hatred for Labour’s Green allies is so deep that he could never have worked in a Labour-Green coalition government, which would likely have co-leader Russel Norman as deputy Prime Minister.
“I would not have been able to work under Russel Norman as Deputy Prime Minister,” he says.
“I’m totally disinterested in a political career where there may have been a dim prospect that he would be my chief. It would be a long day in hell before that happens.” . . .
How many others in the Labour caucus feel that way and who could blame them? But the weaker Labour is the more bargaining power the Greens will have.

Mr Jones says going Green is wrecking Labour.

“I’ve never ever subscribed to the notion that the only way Labour would be strong is by ‘greening’ itself, so we are some sort of version of the Tasmanian Green Party. I never agreed with that.”

Back to Jones.

Mr Jones says Labour would never elect him leader, that Labour has gone too left and left him.

“The test over whether brand Labour is a broad church will rest in the breath of the September vote. Lose no sleep over doubting whether that is the truth.”

So it’s goodbye to the man they call Jonesy and haere ra to Mr Jones. He crusies off into the Pacific, but his parting shot could not be clearer.

The once broad church that housed people like him is becoming so increasingly narrow that it risks being punished in the polls.

It is still a long time until election day in which time a lot could change.
But once more the media is focussing on disarray within Labour which will not endear it to voters.

Greens want 2 deputy PMs

April 19, 2014

Green co-leader Metiria Turei wants to be c0-deputy Prime Minister too.

The Greens could share the deputy Prime Minster role in a coalition with Labour, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman last month said he was keen on the role.

Ms Turei said she would like to be deputy Prime Minister along with Dr Norman.

“There’s no rules that stop there from being more than one deputy Prime Minister,” she told told The Nation.

“Russel and I have had a co-leadership role in the Greens that’s worked very well for the Green Party. I think something similar would work very well for the country as well.” . . .

That is very much a matter of opinion.

From the outside the co-leadership looks very much like tokenism with Norman being the leader in all but name.

He appears to do far more speaking on the party’s behalf than she does.

In spite of National’s popularity and the distrust and disarray on the left, it is possible the left could still be in government.

But when Labour has spurned the Green Party its won’t be keen on one Green deputy let alone two.

And what would happen when the Prime Minister was overseas – would there then be two acting PMs?

 

 

 


Norman helps National again

March 30, 2014

Undecided voters in the centre generally don’t like parties on the extremes of politics.

They don’t wholeheartedly support National or Labour but they prefer them to those at the more radical end of the political spectrum.

They are more likely to favour a stronger major party because of that, knowing that any of the wee parties which are needed to form a government will have a lot less leverage.

That’s one reason labour is struggling.

Some who might support it aren’t at all keen on the thought of the influence a Green Party with a third as many MPs as Labour would have.

Any flexing of muscles by the Greens might appeal to its supporters but it sends those to the right of the left and in the centre further right.

Russel Norman’s announcement he wants to be deputy Prime Minister will excite his party’s grass roots but it will scare a lot of undecided and swinging voters.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman wants to be deputy prime minister if Labour and Greens become government after this year’s election.

Any cabinet formed after the September election should be proportional, and the deputy prime minister role would certainly be on the table, Dr Norman told The Nation today.

“Obviously it depends on the size of the vote,” he said. . .

Keeping talking like that, Russel, it will hurt Labour and help National.

P.S.

Does this ambition on Norman’s part expose the nonsense of co-leaders. After all, if he and Metiria Turei are truely equal as leaders, why would he be deputy PM ahead of her?


Enemy of affordability

March 20, 2014

Greens like to think they’re friends of the earth.

They aren’t so keen on earthlings, and in their eyes some earthlings are even less equal than others as this exchange during question time yesterday shows:

4. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister of Finance: Will the Government propose any measures to restrict the sale of New Zealand farmland or residential land to foreign companies or persons?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): We are certainly not going to restrict Australians from buying homes after they migrate to New Zealand. The Government has already restricted overseas investment in sensitive land and residential land. We made changes to the regulations in 2010, which were reflected in a directive letter to the Overseas Investment Office. We believe these changes struck the appropriate balance between ministerial flexibility to consider a wider range of issues when assessing overseas investment and, at the same time, providing clarity and certainty for potential investors. I would note that under this Government the amount of sensitive land approved for sale to overseas buyers has been less than half what it was in the last 5 years of the previous Labour-Greens Government. I would also note that the OECD assesses our overseas investment regime as now one of the more restrictive in the developed world.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he consider that China has any lessons to teach New Zealand regarding foreign ownership, given that China protects its economic interests through restricting land sales to foreign buyers?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member may be more familiar than I am with the tenets of communism, but in China private individuals did not own land until recently, only the Government did, so even the Chinese could not buy land in China. But I am a bit surprised to find that the Greens only ever get this excited about foreign ownership when it involves the Chinese, who happen to have a much lower number of consents than Australia, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, and, I think, Sweden.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he have any concern that more than one in 10 homes in Auckland is purchased offshore and that, according to BNZ economist Tony Alexander, this figure is set to only increase?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I know that the member has been conducting his own investigation into these issues by visiting the home of Kim Dotcom, a well-known foreign investor in Auckland real estate. I cannot confirm the member’s one in 10 number. The BNZ survey that I saw said that about six houses in every 100 are foreign-purchased and about a quarter of those are being purchased by the Chinese, which means that 1.5 houses in every 100 might be being purchased by people whom real estate agents think are residents of China.

Might is the operative word.

If the property isn’t big enough to require Overseas Investment Office approval, the nationality of the purchaser isn’t recorded.

And the fact that some people doesn’t look either Maori or Pakeha doesn’t mean they aren’t New Zealanders.

Dr Russel Norman: When will he and his Government consider there is a problem—will it be when one in five homes is purchased by offshore buyers, or will it be when one in four homes is purchased by offshore buyers? At what point will he acknowledge that there is a problem?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: We do not have the same problem about buyers being foreign as the Greens do. What we have a problem with is the very high cost of housing in New Zealand for New Zealanders. And all the analysis shows that the fundamental driver of the high cost of housing is not the Greens’ friends from China; it is the Greens’ friends in the planning departments of our city councils who insist on blocking new development of new housing. So the Greens are a much bigger enemy of the affordability of housing in New Zealand than the Chinese have ever been.

Restrictions on the supply of housing is a far bigger enemy of affordability than foreign buyers.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he consider that an increase in interest from offshore buyers in purchasing residential property in Auckland is increasing the price of housing for New Zealand homebuyers, or does he think that this big increase in demand from offshore is having no effect— that it is a special kind of market where a big increase in demand has no effect on prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is not obvious that there is a big increase in demand from offshore buyers. There is some anecdotal evidence that that is the case, and I know that that is certainly believed by some people, but it is yet to be established. The fundamental driver of the increase in housing is restrictive planning policy, which means that when there is more demand—whether it is foreign or, in this case, New Zealanders who have stopped migrating and are staying home and more people who are arriving in New Zealand as migrants—and those factors of demand are rising, the supply cannot react to it. All around the world restrictive planning laws mean higher prices and more volatile prices, and the Greens back that kind of policy. They should be backing the Government on getting rid of that sort of policy if they are really concerned about locking low and middle income New Zealanders out of the housing market.

Dr Russel Norman: Does he agree with Auckland house auctioneer Adam Wang that our ambiguous laws around capital gains tax are assisting the boom in the foreign buy-up of our

housing stock, and does he have any plans to deal with the fact that the capital gains tax exemption in New Zealand is part of the problem driving up house prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: All of those issues have been looked at by various inquiries, by the Productivity Commission, and by policy advisers, and it is possible that any one of them has some influence on the price. This Government, though, has focused on the biggest influence, and the most pervasive one, and that is restriction of supply. It is hard to understand why the Greens support housing planning policies that have the effect of driving up the wealth of the leafy suburbs at the expense of middle-income and low-income New Zealanders. I think that if the Greens were really concerned about equity in New Zealand and affordability of housing, they would be supporting the Government’s policies, not the Labour Party’s policies.

Restrictions on supply help those already on the housing ladder.

Labour and Green policies for higher taxes, will not fix that and their policies which will lead to higher inflation and interest rates would reinforce them as enemies of affordability.


How to lose friends and votes

March 5, 2014

Is the Green Party being accused of defamation by Colin Craig or is it one of  its co-leaders?

This media release  says:

The Green Party has launched an appeal to cover the costs of defamation action being taken against the party by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. . .

“The Green Party will defend the defamation action being brought by Colin Craig because we believe in the freedom of political speech and we believe in an inclusive and tolerant society,” said Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman. . .

That’s very clearly stating the action is being taken against the party.

But the NZ Herald thinks it’s Norman against whom action is being taken:

Mr Craig confirmed this morning that he would start defamation proceedings against Greens co-leader Russel Norman, but with a narrower scope than originally planned.

Mr Craig would first seek a retraction from Dr Norman regarding his statements about the place of women in New Zealand. A claim against Dr Norman’s comments on gays would be delayed. . .

The party has been advised that defending the case was likely to cost around $70,000.

It will launch a campaign today to raise money for Dr Norman’s legal fees. . .

That is clear that it is Norman, not the party, against whom the action is being taken but the party is soliciting donations to help fund the defence.

They might think the co-leader and the party are so intertwined it makes no difference, but members and supporters might feel differently.

When Labour asked its members to help repay the money the party had illegally misspent on its pledge card they were less than impressed.

Many were on low to modest incomes but still happy to raise funds for the party to help it win elections. They were not at all happy about being asked for money to make amends for the consequence of a decision made by senior MPs and party officers.

The action against Norman isn’t in the same league and I think Craig is wrong to pursue it. I agree with the many commentators who’ve said he should harden up.

But Norman could stop the waste of time and money by apologising.

He says it’s about freedom of speech, I think it’s more about his pride and he, and the party, are asking supporters to pay for that.

They are free to do so, and maybe some will.

But others will feel, as Labour supporters did, that their precious spare time, energy and money would be better spent on the cause they believe in, not on an expensive sideshow.

Burning off the goodwill of supporters is never a good idea but the danger doesn’t stop there.

There’s only so much space for news and any attention Norman and his party get for this nonsense is attention not given to matter voters will regard as far more important.

Allowing the action to continue could well lose him and his party friends and votes.


Blue up green down

February 24, 2014

Last night’s One News Colmar Brunton Poll appeared to show National gaining at the Green Party’s expense.

The blue vote went up 6 points and the Green one fell 5 while Labour stayed the same.

But rather than swapping from green to blue it’s more likely that green went red and pink went blue.

Green voters liked Labour’s lurch to the left so moved to the red party but a similar number of voters towards the centre didn’t like the lurch left and moved centre right over to National.

That is the conundrum Labour faces – policies which bolster its support from the left lose it support from the centre.

The poll follows the trend showing steady support for National and little or no progress for the left. The PM is still popular and Labour leader David Cunliffe is not.

There is however, no room for complacency:

Meanwhile National’s election year pitch of boosting teacher performance is proving popular.

But the Prime Minister says his party won’t rest on its laurels, or on the tailwind of a booming economy.

“It’s a good poll but we need to be cautious,” John Key says. “There will be a lot of polls before the election they will bounce around a lot.” . .

 Corin Dann says it’s a wake up call for the left:

The six-point surge in the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll to 51% may well reflect a strong economy and the feel good factor of summer.

However, it also must be acknowledged that Prime Minister John Key has made a strong start to the year.

His popular education policy sending a clear signal to voters that National is capable of fresh ideas and is not a tired government.

Labour leader David Cunliffe meanwhile had his policy launch of a baby bonus derailed by a gaffe and has seemed to struggle for confidence and exposure since. . .

As for the Greens’ big fall in the poll, that is harder to explain. It may be that Russel Norman’s liaisons with Kim Dot Com have hurt the party, or it could also be a reflection of National’s efforts to discredit the party as extremist.

It could also be that more exposure for the Greens is showing up flaws in its policies and that its supporters don’t accept the compromises that would be necessary if it was in government.

poll


How green is your policy?

February 17, 2014

If you want to be green you should recycle, right?

Not necessarily.

Recycling does reduce the amount of waste going to landfills. But that is only one measure of environmental impact.

If recycling uses more energy and/or causes more pollution dumping could be the greener option.

Alternative forms of energy might look greener but as Andrei and Gravedodger pointed out yesterday appearances can be not just deceptive but dirty.

They were commenting on the Green Party policy to provide cheap loans for the installation of solar panels.

When we altered our house 12 years ago we looked into installing solar panels but were advised it would cost too much for too little power.

We investigated solar panels again before undertaking further  alterations a couple of years ago and were told the technology still wasn’t good enough to be worth it this far south.

There might be a better ratio between the cost and benefits further north but that still doesn’t counter the criticism about the environmental cost of making and disposing of solar panels and batteries.

Then there’s the Green’s mistaken assertion that there are no government subsidies involved.

The Green Party’s belief in their ability to make money magically appear seems to have no limits says Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

“The Greens’ solar power policy creates low interest loans that make expensive solar power suddenly a cheaper option for kiwi families, with ‘apparently’ no government subsidy involved.

“I have news for the Greens — if it’s a lower interest rate than normal, it must involve a government subsidy. And if it makes the cost of solar power cheaper for families than existing power options it also must involve a subsidy.

“Everyone wants something cheaper but someone has to pay. Solar is about three times more expensive than grid-scale generation from wind, hydro or geothermal power stations. If solar power was to be made more affordable other taxpayers and power users would have to pay for it.

“There is certainly a place for solar in New Zealand, but given the abundance of lower cost renewable alternatives, it can’t be a priority to subsidise solar power or change the rules to suit a specific technology.

“We’ve seen that with expensive solar subsidies in other parts of the world, including Germany and Spain. The irony is that New Zealand already generates 75 per cent of our electricity from renewable sources and the percentage is moving higher without any need for government subsidies.

“No matter how you dress it up the Greens’ grab bag of power ideas, which also includes nationalising power purchasing and a more expensive ETS, will heap higher prices on Kiwi households.

“If the Greens are serious about their policies, they need to front up and explain who pays for all of this, or whether they would roll out Russell Norman’s printing press again.”

David Cunliffe made a mess of his party’s big baby bribe announcement by saying one thing and meaning another.

Norman’s assertion that there are no government subsidies involved is not just misleading, it’s wrong.

If the environmental impact of the materials, manufacture and disposal of everything involved in solar energy is taken into account the claim that this policy is clean and green is also wrong.

 

 

 

 


Greens no longer so clean

February 13, 2014

The Dotcom reverse Midas touch has struck again - taking the lustre off the Green Party’s reputation for being not just green but clean:

It is bad enough that the Greens are naive enough to sign up to the fan club which accords Kim Dotcom the folk hero status he clearly craves, but scarcely deserves as some modern-day Robin Hood of cyberspace.

Much worse, however, is that it now turns out that party is blithely willing to play politics with New Zealand’s courts, the country’s extradition laws and its extradition treaty with the United States.

Were John Key to allow some right-wing businessman facing extradition to stay in New Zealand in exchange for him abandoning his plans to establish a political party which might drain votes off National, then the Greens would be climbing on their high horses at break-neck speed and leading the charge in slamming the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms. And rightly so.

Yet the Greens seem to be so blinded by Dotcom’s aura that they seem to see nothing wrong with Russel Norman talking to Dotcom about the risks of the latter’s yet-to-be-launched Internet Party wasting centre-left votes, only for the party’s co-leader to subsequently declare that the Greens will probably fight Dotcom’s extradition.

It is all very murky and hypocritical – at best.

By appearing to countenance such a massive conflict of interest through political interference in Dotcom’s potential ejection from New Zealand, Norman has instantly disqualified his party from having any ministerial posts in a coalition with Labour which involve responsibility for the extradition process.

In fact, Norman has probably disqualified his party from having any role in the Justice portfolio full stop. . .

This isn’t the behaviour of anyone wanting to maintain New Zealand’s first place in Transparency International’s corruption index nor is it the actions of a party trying to look like a viable partner in a government in waiting.

It is the case that many people have enjoyed Dotcom’s irreverence whereby he has been the political equivalent of a banana skin upon which the Prime Minister has slipped and fallen.

Amidst all the fun, a lot of people seem to have forgotten Dotcom faces extremely serious allegations in the United States that he has made millions out of copyright theft. . .

It’s the old,  the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Dotcom shares the Green’s dislike of John Key and National.

Norman saw a potential ally because of that but appears to be blind to the danger of dirtying himself and his party with what looks like a decidedly dodgy deal.


Making stuff up

February 6, 2014

It’s so much easier to be in opposition when there’s a lot of bad news around.

Then the politicians can bring out the metaphorical sack cloth and ashes and say how bad things are.

It’s much harder to do that when there’s a growing trend of positive announcements, but that doesn’t stop them trying, even if they have to ensure the facts don’t get in the way of their stories:

Greens leader Russel Norman has joined his Labour colleague David Cunliffe in being caught making stuff up about the economy, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Dr Norman really does need to be held to account when he alleges National has failed to grow jobs and wages – when the official statistics show the opposite is true,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the past year alone, 66,000 more people have jobs across New Zealand – the biggest annual increase since 2006.

“And the best source of wage movements is the Quarterly Employment Survey, which the Greens and Labour have agreed over the years to use as the basis for paid parental leave and New Zealand Superannuation.

“Using this measure, average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent over the year to December, while inflation was only 1.6 per cent. So, on average, wages are continuing to rise faster than inflation.

“The gains are more significant when measured on an after tax basis. The average weekly earnings, after tax, have gone up 25 per cent since September 2008, compared to inflation of 10 per cent over the same period.

“The Greens and Labour continue to deliberately use the wrong measure of actual wage growth by quoting the Labour Cost Index. In doing so, they are misleading New Zealanders.”

Photo: We are heading in the right direction.

And another piece of positive news:


Greens facing tougher fight

February 4, 2014

The Green Party has never been in government and so never had to compromise in its promises.

That changed in the last couple of weeks when co-leader Russel Norman swallowed a huge dead rat in saying Labour’s support for oil and gas exploration wouldn’t be a bottom line.

That sort of compromise is what they have to do if they want to be in government, but it’s also the sort of thing that loses support from people like Rachel Stewart who says that Norman’s slip let down the people of ‘Green’ land:

. . . Russel Norman’s response to Labour making it crystal clear they would continue with National’s oil drilling agenda was deflating to say the least.

Suddenly he was sure something could be worked out in any coalition talks.

Oh, really?

It was a bit of a wake-up call for me and the many others leaning towards the Greens. It was only January and here was their leader speaking of selling out before he’d even got out of the blocks. . . .

Selling out – that’s what the Greens usually accuse other parties of doing.

They now face a quandary, if they want to look like a partner of a government in waiting, they’ve got to look reasonable and be prepared to compromise – as Norman did last year on his mad money-printing idea and more recently on oil and gas.

But in doing that they’ll lose support from people who aren’t prepared to accept compromise.

The party can expect no help from Labour.

Cunliffe has made it clear he’s determined to increase his party’s vote, even if it’s at the expense of potential coalition partners:

. . . Mr Cunliffe would give few hints as to its plans but said he was focussing on being the largest party in Parliament after the 2014 election to put it in a strong position to form the next Government. It is the first time Mr Cunliffe has been specific about overtaking National rather than talking about the joint Labour-Greens poll lift.

That will be a big ask and requires closing a more than 10 point gap between Labour and National in the polls. That is something it has not come near for the past five years.

His comment indicates Labour will be gunning to try to get some of its vote back from the Greens as well as targeting soft National voters. . .

Swapping votes from the Greens to Labour could give the latter more MPs but wouldn’t increase the left-block. To do that they need to take votes from the centre.

Labour knows that soft National voters are put off by the radical red policies of the Greens and is showing that it will have no compunction about butchering the vote of its potential coalition partner to build its own vote.

It’s not pretty but that’s MMP.

 


Not Judge Judy

December 3, 2013

Tweet of the day:

 


Always a risk with candidates

December 2, 2013

No matter how rigorous selection processes are, political parties run a risk with candidates.

No matter how good their credentials are and how well they appear to fit what a party needs when they’re selected, there’s always a danger they won’t stick to the party script.

At best they might not campaign well enough to win votes and they might even lose them.

The danger of rogue candidates is particularly high in seats they’re unlikely to win because it can be harder to find people willing to stand in them unless there’s a good chance they could get list seats.

The risks are bad enough for bigger parties with good back up from MPs, experienced volunteers and the party machine.

They are even greater for wee parties where the talent pool is much shallower and MPs, volunteers and party machine are stretched much more thinly.

It appears that at least some in the Green Party weren’t happy with the way their candidate David Hay performed in 2011.

That could be fair enough – standing for parliament takes a fair bit of self-confidence and candidates’ opinions of themselves can sometimes be considerably higher than that of others.

What doesn’t seem fair, if his version of events is accurate, is the way the party handled the matter:

David Hay today revealed the reason for his leadership challenge, saying that Metiria Turei and Russel Norman had betrayed the core principles of the Green Party and should resign as co-leaders and MPs.

Outside the Green Party offices in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Hay gave journalists a print-out of emails that had passed between himself and Jon Field, the party’s General Secretary, following his interview for the candidate pool. A copy is attached to this release.

The emails reveal that Megan Salole, the Green Party’s 2011 Campaign Manager, had recommended in her secret post-campaign debrief report that Mr Hay should not be accepted into the candidate pool for the 2014 election.  

Mr Hay said “I couldn’t believe the party would allow a recommendation like that to be made, without first raising concerns with the candidate directly and trying to resolve them. I made a formal complaint, which was properly investigated. The party has acknowledged that I was denied natural justice, and has apologised.” 

“But this also raises serious questions about the party’s leadership.  Metiria and Russel must have read that report, and must have known about the recommendation. At no time in the past two years have they, or anybody else, attempted to discuss their concerns with me and try to resolve any perceived problems.”

Two years is a very long time to let something like this fester.

“Metiria and Russel’s actions and omissions in this case have been contrary to the core principles of the Green Party charter principles of appropriate decision making and social justice, and the party’s values.”

“What also concerns me about this is the political risk they took and the folly of their actions.  I these two, with others, set a trap for me two years ago and then sprung it during the candidate selection process.  I can’t understand how they thought that was going to play out. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do.”

“I have completely lost confidence in Russel and Metiria’s ability to lead the Green Party. I no longer trust them or believe what they say. Neither should party members, or New Zealand voters. That is the real reason behind my leadership challenge” said Mr Hay.

“The Green Party is better than this” said Mr Hay. “We have many good, hard working, people in the party who uphold its principles and values. We don’t need these two any more. It is time for them to go.”

This tweet raises a good question about that:

That question aside, the party prides itself on its democratic processes and transparency.

If this version of events is true that’s an idle boast.

If it’s not, it shows the risk parties run with disaffected former candidates.


Democratic processes

November 30, 2013

Electoral law requires parties to use democratic processes in selecting candidates.

Whether Labour’s policy of a female quota for its caucus is a moot point.

So too is the way the Green party is dealing with David Hay who announced he’s challenging co-leader Russel Norman:

The man who challenged Green Party co-leader Russel Norman for the leadership believes the party is trying to kick him off the list.

David Hay says the party’s Candidate Selection and Electoral Process Committee (CSPEC) has recommended to the party’s executive committee that he shouldn’t be in the candidate pool next year.

“I don’t know exactly why the CSEPC made its negative recommendation, but if the party executive accepts it, that would prevent me from being ranked on the party list and therefore from becoming a Green MP next year.”

Mr Hay has been refused a copy of the committee’s report to the executive.

The executive had a tele-conference on October 22, but could not make a decision on his candidacy, Mr Hays says.

“The vote was split 3-6 with some abstentions. Under party rules a 75 percent majority is required for a decision. I have asked executive to make a final decision tomorrow, by simple majority if necessary. I do not intend to appeal it.”. . .

Parties must have the right to determine whether or not someone is suitable to be a candidate but they must use democratic processes to do so.

Even if the man whose candidacy is under question gives permission,  is going against the party’s rule requiring a 75% majority for the decision democratic?

 

 


More instability on left

November 27, 2013

A majority of Labour’s caucus didn’t give David Cunliffe their first preferences in the leadership vote.

The difference in views on mineral exploration isn’t the only one in the party and now there’s another sign of instability on the left:

Green Party member David Hay is challenging Russel Norman for the co-leadership of the party.

Mr Hay, 52, ran as the Green Party candidate for Epsom in the 2011 general election and is currently ranked number 16 on the party list.

While he thinks Dr Norman has been doing a “great job”, Mr Hay says he wants to put the current leadership team “to the test”.

“At this stage, I’m testing to see whether there is support within the party for change,” he said. . . 

“I want to put Russel’s leadership to the test: if he wins out, then he will lead the party into government with a renewed mandate.

Not necessarily, recent history of the Labour party here and Labor in Australia shows winning the leadership isn’t necessarily the end of dissent.

. . . Green Party leadership positions are decided by a vote of the delegates at the Annual General Meeting.

This will be held on Queens Birthday weekend in Wellington next year.

Hay’s chances of winning the challenge aren’t great when he’s not even in parliament, although Norman became co-leader before he was an MP.
But the challenge does raise a question over the leadership.
That question will be there for the next six months and the media will take a greater interest in the party’s internal machinations than it has in the past, if only to establish if Hay is a lone voice.
The Green Party prides itself on its internal democracy and it has also maintained a pretty united front in public until now.
This is the first crack in that facade, albeit a very small one.
But if there’s one more could follow and if there’s one thing the public don’t like it’s a party which is fighting fires its members have lit in their own nest rather than concentrating on what really matters for the country.

 


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